There is no possible reason that I should still be awake. I'm here, in the middle of Montana (Belgrade, to be exact, which is just outside of Bozeman), in the middle of the night, when we will be getting up and packing up in about six hours, and I'm wide awake.
Maybe it's the five episodes of Scrubs... maybe not.
So I'm listening to my dear husband snore as he sleeps soundly after a day of skiing and tension, and I can't even begin to describe how blessed I am to be here, as difficult as it at times.
It's my first "time off" since we got married. Granted, that may not mean a lot to most people. Many people have nights and weekends to kick back and relax and process.
I feel like I haven't processed in months.
Every time I "get" to sit down, there is something else to think about, something else that grabs my attention or fuels my worries. The thank you notes from our wedding are still not done and, due to our packing mess, have gone MIA. We're moving the day after we get back from this trip to Montana (a day that I still have to work). We're never home on the weekends. I have band practice. I desire to meet more with the women on our team, but fail to have the time to show them how much they are loved.
Plus, there's the whole "being married" thing, which takes work and time - and is perhaps God's biggest blessing for my human existence outside of His grace covering my sin and His giving me life in the first place.
There is never enough time. I feel like a horrid wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee. I hate short conversations on the phone that really should last hours but end up being awkward because there are only a few minutes to spare, so I avoid them whenever possible. The people I love deserve so much more than that.
But instead, they get nothing.
I don't exercise. We rarely eat at home anymore. I haven't played guitar or piano (excluding band stuff) for months.
I am finally processing what God has been teaching me through this whole semester: the Spirit grieves.
Perhaps this seems most random to you - it would seem so to me if it came from any other source. But in the midst of learning that there is truth and there are lies, something has changed deep within me.
In the midst of my unfaithfulness in everyday life, God is still gracious, but the Spirit is grieved. I fail to image forth Christ in this. Even the very purpose for which I was created I cannot do as I ought.
But I am so very grateful that there is a God who is, who always has been, and who always will be completely and fully sovereign.
I am so very grateful that I do not have free will. I am overjoyed that I am under authority, that I am under a standard, that I am not my own - for all that I am has been crucified with Christ, that I might live anew in Him!
We saw "The Golden Compass" today. On movie criteria alone, it wasn't really good. It was a little convoluted and I had difficulty understanding how one scene went to the next (it went so fast!), and some things were never really made clear.
I wouldn't recommend it, and our children will never see it. If someone gives us a copy, I will burn it. Seriously.
But that isn't really the point. And I'm going to try to not rant as much as I really want to.
The point is that, as the Truth Project points out, we are in the midst of a battle of worldviews, and what the world tells us will be diametrically opposed to what Christ tells us.
The film, sadly, is not rooted in truth, but rather in what the world tells us. It begins on the premise that before anything known ever existed, there was "dust" - which also causes chaos and instability in people as they grow.
In the dimension of our world that we are shown in the story, people walk around with their souls, named "daemons" outside of their bodies. One of the main plots is that the institutional Majesterium is trying to find a way to separate people from their souls. And a battle of free will versus sovereignty begins.
There are several things that added up for me as I sat and viewed this "fantastical masterpiece": One underlying message is that "from dust we came" and "to dust we return." Another is that there is no sovereign being who should be able to control us - we should let our wild "daemons" run free in defiance of the institution. And yet a third is that we cannot know truth in and of ourselves - we need an outside force to tell us what is "true."
And the Spirit inside of me grieved.
We are made in the image of God. We are not dust, and men do not merely become dust when they die. They face judgement. Real judgement with a real authority who set a holy standard that we have failed to keep because we fell.
God is not responsible for our sin. And we deserve nothing. Absolutely nothing. He is not a tyrant who chooses some to go to hell and others to join Him in heaven. His desire is that none would perish - not a single one.
We violated His standard and yet, out of love, He has let us live and has provided a way of reconciliation to Him by the cross borne by Jesus Christ. This isn't a monarchy where peasants pay tribute in exchange for just treatment - we have nothing to even offer, and yet He has given us everything in Jesus Christ. Everything!
Without God, there exists no purpose - there is no reason for living! If it is dust that we come from, then we truly have no free will. All we are doing is simply the bidding of the universe - we are just part of a clockwork. (I'd explain this more, but it is one o'clock in the morning, after all). Why do we run from the thought that there is a sovereign Lord who keeps watch over us? Why do we fear not having our "independence"?
I am so grateful that I do not need to worry over myself. And there is no such thing as "free will" as we think we understand it. I don't think any of us would really like it that much if we really saw what that looked like.
For in possessing "freedom of the will" we suspect we will know true "freedom". I have known what it is like to live by "my own rules" and it's awful. I have known what it is to live by legalism and it's awful.
And I know what it is to live under grace, to live in responsibility over my own sin and understand the mercy that covers me in any good thing that comes forth from my being - and it is only there, in God's hands, that I have known true "liberty."
How sad it is that the third thing I realized is actually true, though strangely warped in this particular film.
We cannot know truth in and of ourselves. But neither can the "dust" be an honest agent of truth.
But the Spirit of Truth dwells in us. He testifies to the truth. When the truth is not spoken, He grieves.
Which is why I am not offended by the movie. Surprising, no?
But that's where the semester-long lesson comes in. I am not offended for the cross of Christ, but I am grieved at its slander.
Several times in the last few months, I have been afraid of sharing truth with women on my team and with others. Choosing to speak truth instead of trying to brush over things with "easy" answers has been a long and painful process that has resulted in many tears, but never offense. After the first few encounters, I began asking why I was not personally offended when fellow believers would get angry at me or rail on for an hour about their opinion on something or about how they were being treated.
And the answer came simply: it was not me that was offending. It was truth.
I can always stand on truth. Always.
It makes me bolder, something I have struggled with for years, and I can barely explain it except that there is a God, He is fully sovereign, and He came that the "truth might set us free."
How many times I have seen chains lifted this semester! How many times I have sung praise to God for what He is doing in so many lives by exposing them to truth!
We buy so many lies as a culture, myself included. It is easy to "just try to fit in" and go with the flow.
But we are called to so much more than that! We are called to stand firm on the truth and fight for it - not for ourselves or because God "needs" our help (never!), but because we are bearing the image of God and for that reason, we must reflect His truthful nature.
I am not ashamed to serve a sovereign God. He is good, and I would have it no other way.
There were certainly more thoughts about the film that I won't share. I've ranted enough for one evening (or morning).
If I haven't spoken to you recently, know that I love you and wish you a "Merry Christmas!" with the greatest enthusiasm. Perhaps I'll write more about the politics of Christmas (especially in Fort Collins) some other time. Until then, think on the depths of what it means that we celebrate Christmas-
God has given us a Savior! Oh, let us praise the Lord of Hosts! He is ever faithful and good.
I do suppose the time has come for me to now go to bed. And, so, I bid you 'Good night!'